Kate Garraway shares how life with Derek Draper has become a 'new dance' but it's 'not all doom and gloom'

14 September 2023, 14:50 | Updated: 14 September 2023, 15:14

  • Kate urges care system reform and hopes for meeting with Health Secretary Steve Barclay
Kate Garraway and Derek Draper
Kate Garraway and Derek Draper. Picture: LBC/Alamy

By Kit Heren

Kate Garraway has told of the "new dance" in her relationship with her husband Derek Draper, who has become severely disabled since falling ill with Covid-19 in 2020.

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Kate said that Derek's progress since coming out of hospital was "variable" and "unpredictable", and there are some moments when he is like his "old self".

Speaking to LBC's Shelagh Fogarty on Thursday, the Smooth Radio presenter added that her children are "finding their own way to have a relationship" with their father.

Mr Draper was struck by Covid near the start of the pandemic, in March 2020. He has been left with long-lasting damage to his health. He was discharged in April 2021, but has been in and out of hospital since. Kate has been his carer.

She told Shelagh: "His communication is very limited, he getting more words and it’s so variable, so unpredictable, he’ll have moments when you think ‘that’s so Derek, that’s so old Derek’ if you like.

Read more: Kate Garraway receives MBE from Prince William as smiling husband Derek Draper watches on

Read more: Kate Garraway opens up on the struggles facing carers as she describes toll of looking after husband Derek Draper

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"A phrase, a comment, an observation and actually recently he has started to make more observations…

"But it is hard because you don’t want to say ‘do you realise how tough this is’ because why would you want to say that to someone that you’re caring for? And you know that it’s more than anything tough for him."

She added: "You’re watching him wake up in the morning and there’s almost like a flicker in his eyes of almost like he’s forgotten and then it’s just descends on him, this paralysis. His brain is not his friend at the moment and it always was his friend…"

Kate said: "It is a new dance that we’ve got at the moment and we’re very much work in progress. But he’s still here, you know…"

But she joked that her relationship with Derek is "not all doom and gloom".

Kate Garraway receiving her MBE
Kate Garraway receiving her MBE. Picture: Alamy

Asked by Shelagh what the impact of Derek's illness on their children had been, Kate said: "It’s huge, Darcey [their eldest daughter] is like a grown woman now, she’s 17 and she was a little girl when he got sick.

"And of course you don’t remember much before 4 or 5 so it must be a big chunk of her life that Derek is the Derek that he is now. But they’re finding their own way to have a relationship with him…

"You always worry you’re not there enough, you’re not spotting enough stuff and so I guess there’s extra guilt because I feel my time is consumed".

Kate has been trying to speak to Health Secretary Steve Barclay to campaign for reforms for the care system, but has struggled to get in touch.

Derek Draper and Kate Garraway before his illness
Derek Draper and Kate Garraway before his illness. Picture: Alamy

"I feel because I am lucky enough to be in the position I’m in I want to be the champion for those who get in contact in their thousands," she said.

"And I have been trying to get in touch and I found myself saying 'I can’t get in touch with you'.

"Actually his team did say ‘we really didn’t know you were trying to get in touch, genuinely we will have a conversation".

Kate said that "there’s a clunkiness and a lack of communication that I feel like could be fixed" in the care system.

"There’s something about the assessment that feels like the system that’s supposed to be there to catch you when you fall is sort of trying to catch you out."

But she stopped short of assigning blame to anyone in particular.

"Even the evil administrators as they’re often painted - it’s not their fault. It’s just this weight of conflicting bodies and things being presented and you not being present when they’re presented."

The Strength of Love: Embracing an Uncertain Future with Resilience and Optimism, by Kate Garraway from Bonnier Books, is released on September 14.